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Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, Part 6: Confirmation of the Promises to the Fathers
In the early chapters of this epistle, Paul had made several references to Yahshua Christ as a High Priest, asserting that He is the High Priest of the Christian profession in Hebrews chapter 3 (3:1), and more generally, that He is a high priest over the children of Israel, His brethren, in Hebrews chapter 2 (2:17). In that passage Paul had said that Yahshua Christ was a “faithful high priest of the things pertaining to Yahweh to make a propitiation for the failures [or sins] of the people.” Saying that, we know that Paul intended to describe the children of Israel because only they ever had the law, and therefore only they ever bore the stigmata of sin, or failure, in the eyes of God, because as Paul himself had explained in his epistle to the Romans 5:13 that where there is no law, sin is not imputed.
Then in Hebrews chapter 5 Paul informed his readers how Yahshua Christ, who was not of the priestly tribe, was nevertheless considered a priest, as he cited the 110th Psalm where it says “4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” It is inevitable that those words apply not to David himself, but to an expected Messiah, as David began that same Psalm with the statement that “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” So David’s lord, and not David himself, is the subject of the subsequent statements.
For this same thing we read in chapter 20 of the Gospel of Luke where Yahshua Christ had addressed certain of the Pharisees as it is recorded: “41 And he said unto them, How say they that Christ is David's son? 42 And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 43 Till I make thine enemies thy footstool. 44 David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then his son?” Therefore the lord which David refers to as his lord in Psalm 110:1 was indeed interpreted by all, and especially by Christ Himself, to be a reference to the expected Messiah.
Connecting Yahshua Christ, the promised Son prophesied by David, to a Melchizedek priesthood, Paul hopes to convince his Hebrew readers that with the advent of the Messiah, the Levitical priesthood has been eclipsed by a better priesthood, but that the better priesthood is both superior to and of greater antiquity than the Levitical priesthood, so therefore it is of greater authority. We shall see Paul’s arguments in that regard begin in chapter 7, although he lays a foundation for them here in Hebrews chapter 6. When we examine the Melchizedek priesthood in Hebrews chapter 7, we will assert that Moses wrote the account of Melchizedek in the manner in which he did by the inspiration of Yahweh God, as it is a perfect type, or model, for the coming priesthood of God Himself in Christ, and therefore the Levitical priesthood was never intended to have a permanent authority. So at the other end of the pre-Christian age, Paul was equally inspired to make the proper demonstration of that type here in this epistle to the Hebrews.
So in Hebrews chapter 7 Paul offers a deeper discussion of Christ and the relation to Melchizedek. However before we examine that discussion, here we are amidst an explanation of the consequences of rejecting the high priesthood of Christ, which Paul had begun in verse 4 of Hebrews chapter 6 where he said “4 For impossible it is, those once being enlightened both tasting of the heavenly gift and becoming partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and tasting of the good word of Yahweh and powers of the coming age 6 yet falling away, to restore again in repentance, upholding the crucifixion among themselves and making an example of the Son of Yahweh.” Rejecting the true Gospel of Christ, one is upholding the actions of the Jews who crucified Him. Discussing those verses in the last segment of our presentation of this epistle, we explained that one must first understand the true gospel of Christ in order to depart from it as Paul describes here, and the true gospel has not been widely taught in over 1,900 years. True apostolic Christianity was heavily persecuted, and from the remnants of the original churches there arose many diverse and strange doctrines, which are evident in the writings of the so-called “Church Fathers”. There was also a transformation from the apostolic doctrine of covenant theology based on the promises of God, to a mystical doctrine of salvation attained by the declaration of men. However the gospels and many of the epistles of the apostles were preserved, and today we may once again embrace the truth. So we conclude that the many men who have fallen away from the false doctrines and dogmas of the denominational churches cannot be condemned based on Paul’s words in that passage of Hebrews. There are other reasons why men may be condemned, but even then, after the time of the original apostles, few men throughout Christian history have ever been sufficiently learned in the truth of the Gospel, which is why only Yahweh our God can ultimately be the judge of each of us.
Next in Hebrews chapter 6, Paul made an analogy of the soil and compared it to the works of men where he said “7 For the ground which drinks the rain coming often upon it, and produces fodder well fit for those by whom it is also tilled, takes a share of blessing from Yahweh, 8 but bringing forth thorns or thistles is rejected and akin to a curse, of which the result is for burning.” And discussing that passage we explained how it not only referred to the works of men, but to men themselves, as men are often described as thorns and thistles not only in the Old Testament, but also in the Gospels. Contemporary men are themselves the result of the works of men of earlier generations, and must therefore be counted among the works of men. We had cited the Gospel where Christ asked if men gather “gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles”, as an allegory made in relation to the gathering of men. Here where Paul continues in this chapter, he substantiates that statement in relation to men:
10 For Yahweh is not unrighteous, to forget your work and the love which you have displayed for His name, ministering and having ministered to the saints.
The Majority Text has an interpolation here, where it has “to forget your work and the love of toil which you have displayed”, where the King James Version has “and labour of love”. The text follows the 3rd century papyrus P46, and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), Ephraemi Syri (C) and Claromontanus (D).
And here Paul alludes to the true duty of all Christians, which is found in “ministering and having ministered to the saints”. The implication of gathering, or “bringing forth thorns or thistles” is that one has not ministered to the saints, and one’s works shall indeed be lost in the fire. Only the children of Israel are the saints, and they are first referred to as the saints of God in Deuteronomy chapter 33 where we read “1 And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. 2 And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them. 3 Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.” Then in 1 Samuel chapter 2 we read in the prayer of Hannah concerning Yahweh: “9 He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. 10 The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.” So the purpose of God is to keep His saints in spite of the errors of men. Therefore Christ had also professed, in John chapter 10, that: “27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me, 28 and I give to them eternal life and they are not lost forever and one shall not snatch them from My hand. 29 My Father who gave them to Me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them from the hand of the Father!”
The word saint in the Old Testament is from the Hebrew word qodesh, which generally means apartness or separateness, and for that reason holiness or sacredness. The same word is often translated in the King James Old Testament as holy, such as in Exodus chapter 19 where the Word of Yahweh says “6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” The apostle Peter in chapter 2 of his first epistle used equivalent language in Greek where he said to his readers “9 But you are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, so that you should proclaim the virtues for which from out of darkness you have been called into the wonder of His light...” The darkness from which they were called was the prison of their alienation from God, as it was described by the prophet Isaiah, as Peter’s intended readers all descended from the ancient Israelites who were put off in punishment by God. This is evident where in the very next verse Peter wrote “10 who at one time were ‘not a people’ but now are the people of Yahweh, those who ‘have not been shown mercy’ but are now shown mercy.” With all certainty, the reference is a citation of Hosea chapter 1 where the Word of Yahweh says “10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.” Those words are exclusively intended for the children of Israel, so we cannot imagine that Peter ignored their context – rather, he was describing their fulfillment.
The dispersed children of Israel who are called to return to Yahweh their God in Christ are His saints. Paul, describing that same fulfillment that Peter had described, used this term throughout his other epistles in reference to those same dispersed Israelites being reconciled in Christ. Yahweh said in chapter 45 of the prophet Isaiah “4 For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me…” and offers those same people redemption and reconciliation. They had not known Him because they had already been alienated from Him. Where Paul in his epistles addressed his own readers as “called saints”, for instance in the opening verses of his epistles to the Romans and the Corinthians, the King James Version dishonestly added the words “to be”. But Paul was not addressing anyone but the children of Israel, who were already the saints of Yahweh, and calling them to obedience. The word saint has nothing to do with obedience, and everything to do with being one of the descendants of Isaac, who was placed on the altar and dedicated to God, and thereby sanctified. The Greek meaning of hagios, the New Testament word for saint and holy, refers to something set apart, sanctified, for the purpose of God. That is the very promise of the Gospel found in Luke chapter 1, where the purpose of the Christ is explained: “70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.”
And this is how Christ had instructed His disciples to serve Him, by serving one another. So Peter writes in the first chapter of that same epistle, “18 knowing that not with corruptible things - with silver or gold - have you been redeemed from out of your vain conduct handed down by your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb blameless and spotless, 20 indeed having been foreknown before the foundation of Society, but being made manifest upon the last times on account of you, 21 those who through Him believe in Yahweh who has raised Him from among the dead and has given honor to Him, consequently for your faith and hope to be in Yahweh. [And on that basis we have the passage relevant to our discussion of Paul’s words here where he wrote in the verse which follows:] 22 Your souls having been purified in the obedience of the truth for brotherly love without hypocrisy, from of a pure heart you should love one another earnestly”. So in order to fulfill one’s obligation as a Christian, one must be found “ministering and having ministered to the saints.”
Likewise Paul had written in Galatians chapter 5: “13 For you have been called on to freedom, brethren, only not that freedom for occasion in the flesh; but through love you serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one statement, to wit: ‘You shall love him near to you as yourself.’” The apostle John also explained this, for example where he wrote in his first epistle, in the fourth chapter, that “10 In this is love: not that we loved Yahweh but that He has loved us and has sent His Son, a propitiation for our errors. 11 Beloved, if Yahweh has loved us thusly, we also are obliged to love one another. 12 No one has at any time seen Yahweh. If we should love one another, Yahweh abides in us and His love is perfected in us.” This means that since Christ dedicated His life for His brethren, that they should all do the same, although not in the exact same way.
Christians are not to serve the world, and neither are they to serve themselves by attempting to justify themselves through rituals. Rather, they are to serve one another. As Christ consistently criticizes the Pharisees, for instance in Matthew chapter 23, this concept seems to have been lost to the Judaeans. It also seems to be lost to today’s denominational Christians, who justify themselves by the professions of their own lips, and with church attendance and altar calls rather than seeking to serve their brethren and their own kindred community. But as the apostle John had also explained (1 John 5), “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” Since we cannot break the commandments and at the same time love our brethren, we know that we love the children of God when we strive to keep His commandments. So Christianity is not found in practising rituals or participating in ceremonies. And if Yahshua Christ is High Priest of a new covenant, He commands Christians to satisfy their obligations through that same thing, loving their brethren while keeping His commandments. So the Christian must participate in “ministering to the saints” if he is to please God, and everything else is superfluous. Once all of this is properly understood, it is realized that Christianity in its most basic form is little more than love and dedication to one’s own brethren, who are one’s own racial kinsmen. One’s brethren are not merely fellow believers. That idea, prevalent in the denominational churches, is refuted by Scripture. For example, in Romans chapter 9 Paul had prayed for those he called his brethren, and his “kinsmen according to the flesh” because they were not believers. He said those things to qualify who it was in Israel that he was praying for, since he explained that not all of those in Israel were actually of Israel, and he did not care about those who were not of Israel, who were not his “kinsmen according to the flesh”, so he did not pray for them.
Finally, concerning the “ministering... to the saints”, we must understand that Paul’s Hebrew readers certainly would have understood the term saints in the Old Testament sense, as it refers only to the children of Israel, and that is the way that it should still be understood, even today. In this same respect Paul continues in regard to that ministering:
11 But we desire each of you to display that same eagerness, regarding the certainty of the expectation [I has “faith”], until fulfillment; 12 that you would not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience are inheriting the promises.
We may have added an article in verse 11 and written “until the fulfillment”, which is something which we were often hesitant to do when translating the New Testament.
The certainty of the expectation to which Paul refers here was explained by him elsewhere in Romans chapter 4: “16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, 17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. 18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.” Abraham’s offspring became many nations, and Paul’s commission was to bring the Gospel of Christ to those very nations, which he did.
It is also important to note that Paul repeated the basis upon which these many nations would come from Abraham, where it says “so shall thy seed be”. Today’s denomination sects refer to “spiritual” seed or “spiritual” descendants of Abraham. But that is not how either Paul or Abraham understood those words. The text does not say that many nations would become Abraham’s seed. Rather, it says explicitly that Abraham’s seed would become many nations, and they did. So Paul repeats another promise in Romans, which is “In Isaac shall they seed be called”, in Romans chapter 9, and the children of the promise which Paul mentions there are the descendants of Abraham through Isaac.
However all of the other nations to whom Paul brought the gospel, meaning those other than these Hebrews, were Israelites who in ancient times had been cast off by God for their sins, departed from the law of their fathers. So they were nations of the faith of Abraham, while the Hebrews who kept the law were of the law, yet they were nevertheless of the faith of Abraham as well. Abraham believed that his seed would become many nations, according to the promise of God, and that had nothing to do with the law which was imposed 430 years later, as Paul describes in Galatians chapter 3. These nations to whom Paul brought the Gospel all descended from Abraham, and it is they “who … are inheriting the promises” as Paul describes here, and as we see in Luke chapter 1 that Christ came “72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham…”
So where Paul mentions those “who … are inheriting the promises”, he must be referring to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians and others of the dispersions of ancient Israel to whom he had already brought the Gospel, and who had already accepted it and became reconciled to God in Christ. And with this we also learn that Paul never expected the formerly pagan Christians of the nations to become imitators of the Hebrews. Rather, here Paul had asked these Hebrews to become imitators of the Christians of the nations, where he asks them to be “imitators of those who through faith and patience are inheriting the promises.” So Christians should certainly not imitate Jews, but rather, Paul wanted true Israelites of the Hebrews to imitate the so-called Gentiles, the Christians of the nations of Israel scattered abroad who had already accepted the Gospel.
The expectation which Paul mentions here is the hope of Israel to be restored in the Kingdom of God on earth. This is the promise of the prophets, and it was the hope of the apostles where in Acts chapter 1 they had asked of the risen Christ, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” This is the same hope for which Paul protests before Agrippa, as it is recorded in Acts chapter 26, and he says “6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: 7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.” Paul repeats the expectation in Acts chapter 28 where he said to the Judaeans who had met with him in Rome that “for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.”
As a digression, concerning the fulfillment mentioned here, there are many contenders even among Identity Christians who claim that all things in the prophets were fulfilled by 70 AD, when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. This is an utterly ridiculous assertion based on a few verses taken out of context, and is entirely repudiated by Scripture. The destruction of Jerusalem did not deliver the Kingdom of God to the children of Israel, especially when they were ruled over and persecuted to death by pagan Romans, at the instigation of the Jews, for another 300 years after Jerusalem was destroyed. The restoration of the children of Israel to the Kingdom of God is not some sort of abstract construct, rather, it is a concrete reality which has not yet been fulfilled.
And while Paul of Tarsus explained that the temple in Jerusalem was the seat of Satan, writing to the Thessalonians from Corinth around 50 AD, and while Paul inferred in his epistle to the Romans that the destruction of Jerusalem was tantamount to the bruising of the serpent, which is Satan, then after Jerusalem was destroyed the Revelation was written around 94 or 95 AD, and we see that Satan’s seat had moved to Pergamos, ostensibly because Jerusalem had been destroyed. This is another reason why we know that the Revelation was written after 70 AD: because Satan’s seat had moved, and the old Jerusalem was never mention. Satan, now based in New York and London, presently gathers every nation against the Jerusalem of God, as it is explained in Revelation chapter 20, and we still await the final fulfillment of the words of the prophets of God. When Satan is cast into the Lake of Fire, only then will the Kingdom be restored to Israel, and all of the prophecies of God can be considered to have been fulfilled.
For now Paul continues by repeating some of those promises made to Abraham to which he had already referred, and in much the same way that he had explained them to the Romans. The epistle to the Romans was, ostensibly, written only a short time before this epistle was written, according to our own assessment of the events of Paul’s ministry. So Paul continues:
13 For Yahweh, in having promised to Abraham, since He had by no one greater to swear, swore by Himself 14 saying: Truly, “blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” 15 And so having patience he obtained that promise.
In regard to the promise to Abraham, Paul quotes from Genesis 22:17. Here is a fuller quote of the passage: “15 And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies [the same enemies which Luke’s gospel informs us that Israel shall be delivered from in Christ]; 18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” Speaking of this same passage in Galatians chapter 5, Paul wrote: “8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” And, as Paul explains in Romans chapter 4, “they which be of the faith” are they who are of the faith which Abraham had, that his seed would become those very nations.
So in Romans chapter 4 we learn that the seed of the faith is the seed in which Abraham believed, where Paul wrote: “16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, 17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. 18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.” So the things which God had called but which did not yet exist are the nations which the Scripture had foreseen which would be blessed, which were Abraham’s seed. These were the nations of the faith, as they were the nations that Abraham had believed in, nations which would come from his own loins, and for having a belief in what God had promised him, Abraham was accounted as righteous.
Then in Galatians chapter 3 we read: “15 Brethren, (I speak as befits a man,) even a validated covenant of man no one sets aside, or makes additions to for himself. 16 Now to Abraham the promises have been spoken, and to his offspring. It does not say "and to offsprings", as of many; but as of one: "and to your offspring," which are anointed. 17 Now this I say, a covenant validated beforehand by Yahweh, the law which arrived after four hundred and thirty years does not invalidate, by which the promise is left idle.” And the seeds of Galatians 3:16 are Ishmael, Isaac, the sons of Keturah, where as the seed of the promise is Isaac, as Paul said in Romans chapter 9, he will repeat here in Hebrews chapter 11, “That in Isaac shall thy seed be called”.
As we have just seen Paul attest in Galatians that the covenants of God could never be amended or supplemented, and here he confirms that profession once again:
16 For men swear by the greater, and the oath in confirmation to them is an end of all disputation.
As we have seen in the Gospel of Luke, Yahshua Christ is the confirmation of the promises made to the fathers, who are the patriarchs of ancient Israel, and Christ Himself said “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” This is also the purpose of the Messiah as explained in Daniel, where the prophet wrote “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week”, or seven prophetic years. The true Christian confirmation is not what men can pledge to God, but what God has already pledged to the children of Israel. So Paul had said in Romans chapter 15: “8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers”, and he taught the same exact thing to both Romans and Hebrews.
And here in these last few verses, Paul has very obliquely made a defense of his own ministry. In Acts chapter 22, just after his arrest, Paul is seen having made a defense of his profession to the Judaeans, and before he is cut off he says that Christ had “... said to me 'Go, because I shall send you off to distant nations.'” Then Luke wrote: “22 Now they listened until this word, and raised their voice saying ‘Take such as him from the earth! For it is not fit that he lives!’ 23 Then upon their crying out and hurling their garments and throwing dirt into the air, 24 the commander ordered him to be brought into the encampment...” So we see that these Judaeans did not so much as reject Paul on the basis of the Gospel, but rather, they objected to the idea that Paul should take that Gospel to other nations, and for that they wanted to kill him. So here in these last few verses Paul speaks of the promises to Abraham, and cites scriptures which should bring that aspect of the promises to Abraham into the mind of his readers. So he continues in that same Old Testament context:
17 By which Yahweh is more abundantly desiring to display to the heirs of the promise the immutability of His will, mediated by an oath; 18 that by two immutable facts, in which it is impossible for Yahweh to lie, we who are fleeing for refuge would have powerful encouragement to grasp the expectation being prescribed.
We may read in 1 Samuel chapter 15 that “the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent”, or in Numbers chapter 23: “19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” The Hebrew word for repent, which is nacham (Strong’s # 5162), has several shades of meaning, and in these passages it may have better been interpreted as regret, which in this case may mean that God does not regret His promises, so He does not lie. So for instance, when all of Israel was under the penalty of death under the law, Yahweh said in Malachi chapter 3 “6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” Yahweh could not execute the judgment of the law without breaking His prior promises to the patriarchs, so He instead died as a man, to free Israel from that judgment, as Paul explained in Romans chapter 7. So Yahweh God exhibited to the children of Israel that He would rather die than break His Word.
The Judaized denominational sects like to teach that Christ became the heir of the Old Testament promises. However the apostles of Christ proclaimed Him as having confirmed the Old Testament promises, quite contrary to the lying men of the denominational sects. As Paul had professed in Romans, that God must be true, and every man a liar, if the promises of God are not fulfilled for Abraham’s literal seed, the seed from Abraham’s loins, then God is a liar. That is exactly what Paul is referring to here in Hebrews. In reality, the denominational churches are liars for having perverted the Gospel of Christ as well as the teachings of Paul.
Where Paul mentions “we who are fleeing for refuge”, he certainly does seem to be anticipating the prophetic allegory found in Revelation chapter 12: “3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. 5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. 6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.”
However there is a similar concept expressed in the 55th Psalm where it says in a prayer attributed to David: “1 Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication. 2 Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise; 3 Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me. 4 My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. 5 Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me. 6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. 7 Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness.” So the concept of having to flee from the wicked for refuge is found throughout Scripture, in the Psalms, here in Hebrews, and in the Revelation.
A little further on in that same chapter of the Revelation we read: “13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. 14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. 15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. 16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
As another digression, because we continue to stand in amazement at the blindness of these people, the Preterists among us believe that all prophecy was fulfilled by 70 AD, and therefore where the dragon was cast out of heaven and goes to make war with those who bear the testimony of Christ, if all prophecy is fulfilled then there is no promise of deliverance. But if that war were over by 70 AD, then today we no longer fight with the devil. So why do we struggle at all against the enemies of Christ? And why are there still devils who struggle against us? [I apologize, this preterism topic has reared its head again this week in the Christogenea Forum, and it bewilders me because the few who promote it remain obstinate.]
Here Paul of Tarsus is assuring his readers that the promises to Abraham would indeed be kept in the exact same manner that God originally made them with Abraham. There would be no deviation, no change in plan, because God does not lie. Men do lie, and especially all of those in the denominational sects who insist that God did change His plan. So, according to Paul of Tarsus, the assurances made to the children of Israel are absolutely guaranteed, and as he said here, that guarantee is the very essence of the Christian faith, as he said that “the oath in confirmation to them is an end of all disputation.” If we compare Romans chapter 4, and Galatians chapters 3 and 4, Paul taught precisely those same things to the Romans and Galatians, who were in fact just a couple of the nations of Europe and near Asia which had descended from the ancient dispersions of the children of Israel. The denominational sects of Christianity have never investigated the Scriptures in this light, and therefore they make God to be a liar who changed His mind – and Paul refutes them here. In that manner Paul continues in relation to that oath which was made to Abraham, and he says:
19 Which we have as both a secure and firm anchor of the soul, also entering into that within the veil 20 where Yahshua entered, a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest in accordance with the order of Melchisedek, for the ages.
We have improved our translation here at the beginning of the second clause of verse 19, which formerly said “and itself entering”, which was not technically wrong but the pronoun is not explicit and was not necessary.
We believe that Paul is informing his readers that they will indeed enter through the veil, meaning that they will be in the presence of Yahweh God just as Christ their forerunner had done that same thing. Before discussing Melchizedek we shall discuss this first part of this passage. Here Paul describes Yahshua Christ as a forerunner through the veil on behalf of all those who may partake in the promises in Christ, which are those who are the heirs of the promises made to Abraham, who are his seed. Paul explains this same thing further on in Hebrews chapter 10, where he is still discussing this same subject, and where he is speaking of the forgiveness for sins in Christ and he says: “18 Now where there is a discharge of these, no longer is there an offering for wrongdoing [or sin]. 19 Therefore brethren, having liberty into the entrance of the holy places in the blood of Yahshua 20 by a new and living way through the veil which He has consecrated for us, that is, of His flesh [the veil is the flesh, and when it dies the spirit remains], 21 and a great priest over the household of Yahweh, 22 we should approach with a true heart, in certainty of faith having purified the hearts from a wicked conscience, and having washed the body in pure water 23 we should hold fast the profession of the expectation without wavering; for He making the promise is trustworthy.”
In the Old Testament the perception of death was that the spirit of a man rested, or slept in the earth. But because men are reconciled to God in Christ, we have a new perception of death in the New Testament. So in 1 Peter chapters 3 and 4 we see it explained that Christ, while He was among the dead, had preached the Gospel to the “spirits in prison”. Peter then said in reference to that: “6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” So in the New Testament the children of Israel have reconciliation with Yahweh their God, and therefore Paul explains here that Christ was a forerunner for them through the veil, using the veil as an allegory for the flesh. The language is an allusion to the Old Testament temple of Yahweh, where the glory of Yahweh was said to have appeared in the inner sanctum at the mercy seat, a veil separating it from the rest of the temple through which only the high priest could enter at the prescribed times. So Yahshua is the new high priest who entered through the spiritual veil, but for a different purpose.
And if Christ is a forerunner, then the children of Israel can go where He is. This is also referred to in the Gospel. As it is described in John chapter 7, speaking to those of His enemies who were “from below”, and not born from above, Christ had said “Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come.” Again, He said to them in John chapter 8: “I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.” Later on, in John chapter 13, He said to His disciples “33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.” But when Peter asked of this, He qualified His statement and said “Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.” So the enemies of Christ cannot follow through the veil at all, however His children certainly can and will.
So for the children of Israel, death should be viewed differently after the reconciliation which they have in Christ than it was in the days of alienation from God before Christ. Therefore Paul says in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, speaking of death, that “6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” Even Yahshua Christ, in several places in the Gospel, described the death of the body as an entrance into life. That is a Christian hope.
Now for the third time in this epistle, Paul informs his readers that Christ became “a high priest in accordance with the order of Melchisedek”. Here it may be expedient to discuss what we think this order of Melchizedek may have been, so that we can determine what sort of high priest Yahshua Christ truly is. As Paul said, high priests are chosen by God, and perhaps in the Word of God we can see the basis for that selection.
The phrase “order of Melchizedek”, after the meaning of the Hebrew word for order in Psalm 110:4, may have been rendered “manner of Melchizedek”, as we had explained of the Hebrew when we first encountered the term in here in Paul’s epistle in Hebrews chapter 5. But in this epistle, as it is in the Septuagint version of the Psalm that Paul is quoting, the Greek word for order is τάξις (Strong’s # 5010), and that word signifies a somewhat stronger meaning.
According to Liddell & Scott, a τάξις is a drawing up, such as in the order or disposition of an army. So it is also the battle array, or order of battle, or even a post or place in the line of battle. Then generally, it is an arrangement, order, or even a regularity. With this, the concept of the Melchisedec priesthood seems to represent an order, and Melchizedek is not merely a personal name, but a title, and it does not merely refer to an individual. Here Paul refers to an individual bearing that title because he is referring to one person of that order, who also happens to be the only one called by that name in Scripture.
The title, Melchizedek is said by Paul to mean king of righteousness, but in some lexicons the Hebrew word is interpreted to mean righteousness is my king. We would rather trust Paul to understand what it meant. Here we are going to list certain circumstances found in this epistle to the Hebrews, or in the account of the interaction between Abraham and Melchizedek in Genesis chapter 14, or also elsewhere in Scripture where we believe that there are certain related statements or circumstances which can help us to realize what is meant by the phrase “order of Melchizedek”.
Paul explains here in Hebrews chapter 7 that Abraham was the inferior of Melchizedek, for which Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek in spite of the fact that it was Abraham who possessed the many promises of inheritance from Yahweh God. And because Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, and Levi was still in the loins of Abraham, not even having been born, therefore the Melchizedek priesthood must be greater than the Levitical priesthood. Paul will offer these arguments to the Hebre3ws later in this epistle, to convince them that with the priesthood of Christ the Levitical priesthood has been eclipsed.
There is a greater and older priesthood which is barely evident in Scripture, and that priesthood is based on rank of birth. First, the tribe of Levi was chosen in place of those of the firstborn rank in Israel, as we read in Numbers chapter 3: “11 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 12 And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine; 13 Because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be: I am the LORD.” Then later, in Numbers chapter 8, the word of Yahweh says of the Levites, “16 For they are wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel; instead of such as open every womb, even instead of the firstborn of all the children of Israel, have I taken them unto me.” The firstborn sons were significant to the Adamic Egyptians, which is why Yahweh slew them to humiliate Egypt, and they were also important to the Hebrews, as we see before the Exodus where Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph. The significance of the first born is evident among both peoples in Genesis chapters 41, 43 and 48. In Genesis chapters 41 and 43, Joseph was living and acting as an Egyptian.
In Numbers chapter 18 we read in the law: “15 Every thing that openeth the matrix in all flesh, which they bring unto the LORD, whether it be of men or beasts, shall be thine: nevertheless the firstborn of man shalt thou surely redeem, and the firstling of unclean beasts shalt thou redeem.” Yahweh had already taken the Levites for His service in lieu of the firstborn of men, and that redemption is also first described in Numbers chapter 3: “44 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 45 Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the LORD. 46 And for those that are to be redeemed of the two hundred and threescore and thirteen of the firstborn of the children of Israel, which are more than the Levites; 47 Thou shalt even take five shekels apiece by the poll, after the shekel of the sanctuary shalt thou take them: (the shekel is twenty gerahs:) 48 And thou shalt give the money, wherewith the odd number of them is to be redeemed, unto Aaron and to his sons.” Evidently, the firstborn of unclean beasts were redeemable only because they would defile the tabernacle and the altar, and Yahweh did not want them in His service.
So we see a tradition predating the Levitical priesthood by which the firstborn son was consecrated to God. This was a type of sacrifice made in the dedication of the firstborn son to be the family priest, and it is evident right from Genesis chapter 4. In Genesis chapter 4 we see Cain make a sacrifice to God, and Abel followed immediately after to make a similar sacrifice, similar because each of them sacrificed of the works of his own hands. But Cain’s sacrifice was rejected, for which he killed Abel out of jealousy. Here we see a struggle between Cain and Abel, and it was portrayed as initiating from the rights to the family priesthood. Ostensibly, the firstborn of Adam would be the family priest, and Seth would eventually become a replacement for Abel, but not for Cain, because Cain could not be a legitimate priest.
For this reason, we believe that Peter referred to Noah as the “eighth preacher of righteousness” in 2 Peter 2:5. Now, we know that the King James Version has “Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness”, but they added words and punctuation whereby they created a lie. In that verse, the King James Version added the words “person”, a, and the comma, where according to the Greek grammar the word for eighth is clearly an adjective modifying the noun for preacher. No other modern translation that we have seen has correctly translated this passage, because none of them understand it, so they all confuse the word for “eighth” with the number eight, which happens to be the number of people on the Ark of Noah. However eighth and eight certainly should not be confused.
The only way that Noah could be the “eighth preacher of righteousness” is if we count down the eldest living sons of the Adamic line from Adam to Noah. Ostensibly, Abel would be the first of the firstborn sons of Adam, and therefore he would be the first preacher of righteousness, and Seth who replaced him would be second, then his son Enos third, while his son Cainan would be fourth, and Mahaleel would be fifth. Jared the son of Mahaleel would be sixth, and then Enoch must be passed over, because he was taken from the earth before he could inherit the position from his father Mahaleel. Then after Mahaleel his grandson Methuselah, the son of Enoch, would be seventh. Examining the genealogies, Methuselah outlived his son Lamech by just a few years, so Lamech died and Noah became the heir of the title, the “eighth preacher of righteousness”. This is the only way that Noah could be the eighth of anything, by being the eighth of the line of the oldest living firstborn sons after Adam. Therefore it must also be what Peter had meant when he used the phrase “eighth preacher of righteousness”.
Some of the late apocryphal books of Scripture, which we do not consider canonical, understood this aspect of the Melchizedek priesthood, and make the claim that Shem was this Melchizedek. Of course, Shem certainly must have held the office of “preacher of righteousness” at one time, but following the much more credible Septuagint chronology and neglecting the fabulous Masoretic Text chronology, Shem died several centuries before Abraham was born.
Others assert that Abraham’s older brother was Melchizedek, whom Abraham had brought with him into Canaan from the land of his fathers. I myself was at one time persuaded of this. However Arphaxad, the son of Shem, was not firstborn and that leaves a lot of explaining. But in truth, and in spite of the model which Paul builds in Hebrews chapter 7 from the description of Melchizedek in Scripture, some living Adamic male must have been counted as the eldest living of the firstborn.
We nevertheless believe that the term Melchizedek refers to that very office. But we will leave this question open, and continue at this point where in our next presentation we discuss Hebrews chapter 7 and Paul’s description of the Melchizedek of Genesis chapter 14.